Working with a business mentor gives you the opportunity to meet up regularly to discuss how things are going, identifying any opportunities or challenges and working together to come up with solutions and strategies. These supportive relationships will have been even more important throughout the disruption and uncertainty caused by Covid-19, but how has lockdown affected mentoring?
The most obvious impact is that like most other business meetings, mentors and mentees have shifted to virtual interactions; using Zoom, Teams or other video conferencing platforms, rather than meeting in person. But it’s testament to the value of this process, that despite everything that has been going on, mentors and mentees have still made time to keep in touch.
Adapting to the new normal
For some of the business leaders involved with GC Business Growth Hub’s mentoring programmes, the support and guidance provided by mentors has helped them find a way through incredibly challenging conditions this year.
Having another business leader to act as a sounding board for discussing challenges and any strategic implications, has helped several SME leaders deal better with the stresses and strains of keeping their businesses on the right track.
A major challenge normally faced during difficult times is not having access the kind of resources and knowledge-sharing that is commonplace within larger organisations. Having a consistent mentoring relationship offers the chance to benefit from learning about this kind of best practice.
Amongst the challenges that lockdown presented for many businesses, was the sudden shift to remote working and the impact this could have on productivity and company culture, but again this is where mentors have been able to help and offer advice.
Businesses that haven’t had to create policies and procedures for staff to work from home before were able to quickly put these in place, based on the best practices learned from mentors. This helped them get ahead of their peers and ensure a smooth transition into lockdown.
Helping businesses survive and thrive
Many current mentoring relationships started before lockdown was introduced, when the mentees would have had completely different expectations for what they were hoping to gain from the experience, with no indication of the kind of disruption that was on the horizon.
However, many mentoring relationships have flourished through lockdown, with both parties gaining something valuable from working together, even though they’ve had to adapt to new ways of meeting up and dealing with unprecedented situations.
There will undoubtedly be more disruption and difficult decisions to make as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt across business. But leaders involved in mentoring relationships know that they can look forward to calmer times ahead, when they are able to return to planning for the future, with the help of their mentors.
Mentors know they have been able to play a rewarding role in enabling their mentees to keep their businesses going and staff employed in the midst of a crisis. Mentors have also expanded their own networks and learned more about other sectors, as well as their challenges and opportunities.
Over the last eight years, more than 900 mentoring relationships have been formed, with more than 9,000 hours of voluntary support provided by the 170 mentors GC Business Growth Hub is able to call upon. In total, more than 400 Greater Manchester mentors have supported the Hub’s mentoring programme.
If you are aiming to grow your business and are interested in finding out more about our mentoring programmes, including how to become a mentee or mentor, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0161 359 3050.